Living the nerd life

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sink valve

Something you should know about me is that I am a nerd. I am very proud of it too. I’m an Enneagram 5 for those who follow such things.

I’m creative and love to learn about things — not useful things necessarily. I still have next to no grasp of, say, advanced algebra, but give me a completely esoteric subject and see me fall down the rabbit hole of glorious information.

In middle school, I became obsessed with JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy simply because, in that pre-internet world, there were so many books on the subject available. My obsession continued well into a decade.

I only recently got rid of the offshoots of that obsession — my JFK and Jackie salt and pepper shakers and record albums. Yes, really. I had to be the only teenager back in the day prowling yard sales for JFK memorabilia.

All in

When it comes to nerdom, I am not just a little bit nerdy, mind you. I am all in. I love to research things that don’t really require research.

I spent hours researching the origins of our new (to us) but very old, vintage bathroom sink. It is a Standard brand manufactured May 8, 1929. I know you are as thrilled with this information as I am.

For the record, the Kohler cast iron tub is a few years old, c. 1924. April 20, 1924. I am fascinated with a time when craftsmanship was such that they could trace manufacturing date to the day it was made. I like to imagine someone put in a good day’s work on May 8, 1929, went home to a good supper and lived a good life.

Gently used

Only a history nerd will understand that to me there is a comfort in old things. I know so many only like “new.” Brand new, fresh and clean(ish) products are what they prefer. I am completely opposite. I feel safer with older and “gently used” items.

Clothing? If it’s gently used, I know it can survive wash and wear and still look good. That’s quality. I’m in. I research thrift store finds too. An amazing sweater, vintage leather, fantastic dishes? I love to pick them up for pennies on the dollar and learn about what I found.

Furniture? They just don’t make it like they used to. At least not in my budget. I prefer solid wood to medium density fiberboard and pressboard. In fact, our most recent bathroom renovation was brought to us by a “new” vanity. It looked beautiful with a marble top, undermount porcelain sink, and a base that was apparently cobbled together out of sawdust and glue. The mold took hold almost immediately.

Within a few years I was very sick, and the vanity, and much of the room around it, had to go. There is no way a solid piece of oak or walnut would have done me dirty like that.

Old and reliable

I did decide to opt for old, cast iron, easy to clean pieces. Hence my research on 1920s plumbing fixtures. Our house is roughly two decades older than these pieces, but beggars can’t be choosers. I’m just glad to have these old beauties in the house.

God willing, I don’t think we can wear out a cast iron tub or a sink that weighs slightly less than a Volkswagen Bug. Drop them through the floor into the living room below? Maybe. Wear them out? No.

As with all my nerd goals. I did my research. The house was built to hold a clawfoot tub originally. Ergo, it should still be able to do so 120 years later. Probably.

Helpful

My research comes in handy at times. It has been said that a large percentage of homeownership is hearing strange noises and hoping they are made by actual ghosts since you cannot face having to repair anything. I find this to be true.

I also find that I spend an inordinate amount of time doing online research on how to repair and renovate our home. I’m also really good at googling (yes it’s verb) “what is that smell?” and “what is that sound?” These phrases are useful for both automotive and home repair.

I have diagnosed a dry drain (stinky) and how to build a better mousetrap (a bucket, old water bottle, and some peanut butter). All of my research is not foolproof, of course.

I believe, however, that my research has saved us time and trouble in the past. Mr. Wonderful would want me to note that my research has also cost him time and caused him trouble. He is the one who has to install the incredibly heavy sink and bathtub. It’s a balance after all.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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